Blog
Better Meetings

Making Meetings Matter: How to Run Impactful All-Staff Meetings

If you lead a team, all-staff meetings are likely a regular part of your calendar. But it's easy for them to feel like just another meeting - a box to check off rather than a productive use of time. In reality, all-staff meetings have immense value. They're a chance to align your entire team, give updates on key company news, reinforce culture and values, get feedback, and more.

Here's a closer look at why all-staff meetings matter, as well as tips for making the most of the time you have together as a team.

Keeping Everyone Informed

One of the biggest benefits of an all-staff meeting is ensuring everyone has access to the same information. Things like company announcements, policy changes, and updates on goals and projects can be shared efficiently in this forum.

You likely have employees who work remotely or on different teams. An all-staff meeting helps close those communication gaps. No one can claim "I didn't get the memo" if the news was shared in the company-wide meeting.

It also gives employees who don't interact with leadership regularly a chance to hear directly from them. And it's an opportunity for leaders to reinforce priorities and demonstrate alignment.

Regular all-staffs keep people informed and prevent silos from forming across the organization.

Building Culture and Community

Beyond just information sharing, all-staff meetings are a chance to bring your company culture to life. They reinforce values, traditions, and norms. Having everyone gather - even if just over video conference - fosters a sense of community. These meetings remind employees that they're part of something bigger and provides a forum for connecting with colleagues they may not interact with day-to-day. You can use this time to celebrate wins, highlight exemplary work, and recognize employees. These rituals build culture and get people fired up.

Don't underestimate the value of personal connections, either. Quick icebreaker activities and casual chats before and after the official meeting give employees a chance to engage on a more personal level.

Gathering Feedback and Ideas

Your all-staff meeting is the perfect opportunity to take the pulse of your employees. What are their concerns? Where do they see room for improvement? What gets them excited about the future?

You have a captive audience during this meeting, so take advantage by building in time for Q&A, open discussion, or quick polls and surveys. Hearing directly from employees will provide insight you can't get anywhere else. It's also a chance to get input on proposed changes or ideas before pulling the trigger. And you can use the meeting to spark new ideas by engaging the collective brain trust.

Getting regular feedback and ideas from your full staff in this format is invaluable for guiding better decisions.

Driving Alignment

One risk as companies grow is that departments, teams, and even individual employees can lose alignment. All-staffs are your chance as a leader to get everyone pointed in the same direction. Share the company's overall vision and how each person contributes to it. Celebrate shared wins, which build a sense of collective identity. Use the meeting to reinforce company values and culture. You can also identify and discuss conflicts or misalignments that may be bubbling up. Nip those in the bud before they turn into real problems.

Regular all-staff alignment keeps everyone rowing in the same direction so you can move forward decisively as an organization.

Cascading Communication

Finally, all-staff meetings provide an efficient way to cascade communication throughout the company. Important messages, vision, and strategy can be communicated from leadership directly to the full organization. And key insights, feedback, and ideas surface from all employees back to leadership. This facilitates fast, accurate information sharing up and down the org chart. Chains of communication through multiple layers of management risk the message getting diluted or distorted.

The all-staff forum allows transparent, effective top-down and bottom-up communication across the entire company.

How to Structure an All-Staff Meeting for Maximum Impact

Now that you know why all-staff meetings matter, let's talk about how to run them effectively. Follow these best practices for structuring and facilitating your meetings to get the most bang for your buck.

Establish a Consistent Cadence

To get into a productive rhythm, establish a consistent cadence for your all-staff meetings right from the start. Common cadences are monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly. Take into account what makes sense for your company size, rate of change, and communication needs. If there are long gaps between meetings, momentum will be lost. But too frequent can feel like overkill.

Once you pick a cadence, stick to it. Consistency also allows people to plan around the standing meeting on their calendars well in advance.

Limit to One Hour Max

With your full staff in attendance, all-hands meetings can easily drag on too long. Employees will quickly disengage if the meeting stretches beyond an hour. That might seem like a short window, but it's amazing how much you can accomplish with tight facilitation. Stick to the key topics and move quickly through each one.

If certain topics require more time and discussion, schedule a separate meeting dedicated just to that - perhaps with key stakeholders rather than the full group.

Constraining your all-staff meetings to an hour or less will keep people engaged throughout.

Start and End on Time

Respect people's time by starting and ending your meeting sharply on time. As the meeting organizer, this is entirely within your control. Have all your materials prepared and technology set up in advance so you can begin precisely at the scheduled time. Avoid the "hold on, I just need another minute" when the meeting should start. And when time is up, quickly recap key takeaways and action items, then wrap up - even if you didn't get to everything planned. Ending on time shows respect for people's schedules.

Set a Clear Agenda

To keep your all-staff meeting tight, focused, and organized, develop a clear agenda and stick closely to it. Share the agenda ahead of time so people can come prepared.

Be selective about what makes the agenda. Don't try to cram too much in. Prioritize issues that require the input of the full group.

A typical all-staff agenda may include:

  • Company updates and announcements
  • Departmental highlights
  • Progress update on key goals/initiatives
  • Open Q&A
  • Celebrating wins
  • Preview of next month's priorities

You can solicit agenda topic ideas from team members ahead of time. As facilitator, curate the topics to keep the agenda concise. Having a pre-defined agenda avoids meandering discussions and keeps the conversation productive. Identify who will lead each agenda item so you maintain brisk pacing.

Facilitate Discussion Thoughtfully

Even with a tight agenda, all-staff meetings will still require skillful discussion facilitation. As the meeting organizer, this role falls on your shoulders. Make sure the conversation stays focused and moves the agenda forward. If certain topics provoke endless debate, suggest tabling the discussion for a smaller group to address later. Draw out quiet participants by creating space for them to share their thoughts. At the same time, don't let dominant voices take over the dialogue.

Acknowledge points of disagreement or conflicting opinions, but guide the team toward alignment and consensus where possible. Identify next steps to resolve divergent views. Your thoughtful facilitation ensures the meeting time drives productive discussions that move your team and company forward.

Leave Time for Relationship Building

Cover your essential agenda items, but also leave room in the schedule for some relationship building among your staff. This fosters team cohesion and stronger culture. Start with quick introductions if there are any new employees attending their first all-staff. Even for ongoing meetings, a quick icebreaker question sets a congenial tone.

Consider breakout discussions in small groups of 3-5 people. This allows employees who don't normally interact to connect and build closer working relationships. End the meeting 5-10 minutes early for informal networking. Let conversations carry on after the official meeting concludes. Relationship building is an important purpose of all-staffs.

Running Effective Remote All-Staff Meetings

Increasingly teams are distributed rather than working together in a central office. While this provides flexibility, it can make all-hands meetings feel even more disjointed. With a remote staff, taking steps to make people feel connected during the all-staff meeting is essential. Here are tips for facilitating an impactful virtual all-hands.

Require Cameras On

Seeing each other's faces goes a long way, so mandate that everyone attends the virtual all-staff with their cameras turned on. This creates a stronger sense of togetherness and engagement.

As facilitator, ask specific people for input to keep remote participants from disengaging. Use names abundantly so it feels like you're addressing individuals even if you can't make eye contact.

Spotlight Speakers

During presentations or discussions, use your video platform's spotlight or pinning functionality to feature the active speaker large on everyone's screen. This helps remote participants follow who is talking and gives employees a chance to see each other up close.

Breakout Rooms

Small group breakout rooms allow for more intimate discussions and relationship building between remote staff members. Place people in different breakout groups each meeting to broaden connections. Appoint someone to report key takeaways from each group once you reconvene.

Informal Chats

Schedule a voluntary "hangout" session after the formal part of your meeting ends. This creates space for informal conversations and relationship building similar to what would happen naturally in person.

These steps help your remote team stay connected and get value out of your virtual all-hands even when working from afar.

Getting Input From Your Staff

One of the major benefits of all-staff meetings is collecting direct input from employees. Here are effective ways to solicit feedback before, during, and after your all-hands.

Pre-Meeting Survey

A week before your next all-staff, send out an anonymous survey to gather agenda ideas and questions people want to discuss. Review the results to shape your agenda. Ask for input on what's going well that should be highlighted, and what people see as current challenges. Include some open response fields for additional thoughts.

Q&A Session

Dedicate 10-15 minutes of your meeting to an open Q&A session. Take as many questions as time allows, addressing easy ones on the spot and following up on more complex ones after the meeting.

Idea Jam

For part of your meeting, have employees submit ideas related to a specific topic or challenge - for example "How could we improve our onboarding process?" Collect ideas in a Google Doc or on virtual whiteboard. Review the results after the meeting to turn ideas into action plans.

Peak/Pit

Close your all-staff with a highs and lows activity. Ask each person to share one "peak" from the last period - something that went well or made them proud. And one "pit" - something challenging or frustrating.

Listen to these personal insights to get a pulse on how your team is truly feeling and what problems may need addressing.

Celebrating Wins and Offering Recognition

All-staff meetings are a perfect opportunity to celebrate your team's wins and offer recognition. This builds morale, reinforces culture, and models the behaviors you want to see more of.

Here are ideas for injecting more appreciation and recognition into your all-hands:

  • Shout out exemplary work - Keep an ongoing list of great work examples, and share 2-3 of them at each meeting. Get specific about why the work was so impressive.
  • Highlight employee milestones - Note work anniversaries, new certifications earned, or major accomplishments of team members. This makes people feel valued.
  • Recognize "Culture Carriers" - Monthly, identify 1-2 employees who have embodied your company values and gone above and beyond.
  • Give peer recognition - Let team members recognize each other by submitting praise or gratitude for coworkers. Read a few out loud each meeting.

Publicly celebrating your team energizes people and reminds them that their excellent work matters to the company. Make recognition a regular ritual.

Keeping Meetings Engaging

Even when tightly facilitated, all-hands can still feel boring to some employees. Use these tactics to keep your meetings fun, engaging, and compelling over the long haul.

Surprise Giveaways

Who doesn't like free stuff? Toss out some surprise prizes or giveaways during your all-staff meeting. Offer prizes for participating in activities or games. These could be gift cards, company swag, or anything fun. You'll see more excitement and interaction when giveaways are on the line.

Friendly Competition

Pit teams or departments against each other in games and contests during your meeting. Competition gets the energy up!

For example, have teams go head to head in a quiz on company history or trivia. Or see who can come up with the most creative solutions to a challenge the business is facing. Award silly prizes to the winning team. A little friendly competition breaks up long presentations.

Outside Speakers

Bring in guest speakers to liven up your meeting and provide fresh perspective. This could be an industry expert, author, or thought leader. Even an engaging speaker from within your company can shake up the routine. Employees enjoy hearing from someone new.

Themed Meetings

Give certain meetings a fun theme, like 80's day, beach day, superhero day, etc. Encourage people to dress up and decorate their workspaces accordingly. Themed meetings add a dash of fun and prevent the all-staff from feeling like same old routine. People anticipate what the next theme will be.

Keeping your team engaged during all-hands requires some creativity and variation. Try out different ideas to add an element of fun and surprise.

Following Up and Improving Over Time

To keep sharpening your all-staff meeting skills, be sure to follow up with attendees and evaluate after each one. Implement improvements over time.

Here are some ideas:

  • Send a quick feedback survey asking what worked well and what could improve about the meeting. Adjust based on this input.
  • Review action items that came out of the meeting and make sure owners are on track to complete them.
  • Share a meeting recap with highlights, key decisions, and next steps so everyone stays in sync.
  • Rotate facilitators periodically to build this skill in other leaders. Offer coaching for newer facilitators.
  • Change up the format and flow to address feedback or spice up the routine. Experiment with new agenda items, discussion formats, etc.

Like anything, running effective all-staff meetings takes practice. Leverage feedback, stay flexible, and keep improving each time.

Enable Better Meetings with Supernormal

As your company grows, it becomes even more critical to maximize the impact of your all-staff meetings. But it's hard to facilitate effectively while also documenting key information. That's where Supernormal comes in.

Supernormal's AI notetaker attends your all-staff meetings, takes comprehensive notes, and compiles action items automatically in real time. All your Supernormal notes are stored in a centralized knowledge base where your entire team can reference old meeting notes whenever they need to recall past discussions, decisions, or action items. New employees get up to speed faster by going back and accessing recordings and notes from past all-hands meetings. Plus, remote employees don't miss a beat.

With Supernormal capturing critical information from your all-staffs, you can focus on high-impact facilitation and engagement in the moment. Start getting more from your team-wide meetings by signing up for Supernormal today.

Join 200,000+ people using Supernormal to move their work forward

Sign up for free to discover the magic of Supernormal.